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21 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

Has your business’s social media presence become ho-hum?  Are you fresh out of ideas for creative photos or inspiring images? Then try going live with a digital event.

 

There are a wide variety of online events you can take part in, from Tweet Chats (or Twitter Chats) to Facebook Live or Instagram Live streaming videos. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of digital events for a small business, give you an overview of digital event options, and share some ideas for digital events you can host.

 

What are Digital Events?

 

A digital event is any online broadcast usually on social media—that takes place live. Among the most popular formats are Facebook Live videos, Twitter live videos and Instagram live videos.  You can also participate in or host Tweet Chats or Reddit forums, which are real-time online chats on a specific topic.

Live digital events are becoming more and more popular. According to TechCrunch, one-fifth of videos shared on Facebook are now live.

 

Why Should a Business Participate in Digital Events?66061204_s.jpg

 

Live digital events have many benefits for a small business. Like all kinds of social media marketing, they help promote products or services, build awareness of your business and gain a reputation for thought leadership. However, a live digital event has unique advantages:

 

  • It can generate a sense of excitement and anticipation
  • It helps to foster a community with your customers and followers
  • It enables real-time interaction with customers
  • It offers a sense of authenticity because it’s live
  • You get instant responses and feedback from viewers

 

Ideas for Digital Events

 

A Tweet Chat or Reddit forum is essentially a Q&A session. For example, you could invite an industry expert to answer questions, or answer questions yourself about your business, product or service. You’ll need a moderator for the event to field questions and manage the flow of interactions (if you’re the one answering the questions, you won’t be able to pay attention to incoming questions at the same time).

 

Here are some ideas for live videos:

 

  • Go behind the scenes at your business. Give viewers a tour of your brewery or introduce them to your team.
  • Hold a demonstration showing viewers how to use one of your products.
  • Interview an industry expert on a topic of interest to your customers.
  • Live stream an event at your business, like a grand opening for a new location or a fundraiser for a local charity.
  • Live stream an event, conference or tradeshow you’re attending. If you’re speaking at an event or moderating a panel, live stream it.
  • Promote a sale at your business. Take viewers through your store showing off the hottest selling items or biggest promotional discounts.

 

Tips for Digital Event Success

 

  • Promote your event in advance. Use email marketing, social media and your business website to spread the word and create anticipation.
  • Create a hashtag for your event so people can find it. If you’re hosting a Tweet Chat, you’ll need a unique hashtag to tweet or respond to tweets in the chat.
  • Plan ahead. Your event is live, but don’t try to wing it. Facebook recommends Facebook Live videos be a minimum of 10 minutes long—a long time to talk if you don’t have some idea what you’re going to say. Plan a few topics to bring up or questions to get the ball rolling.
  • Create a series. For example, hold a Tweet Chat with an industry expert once a month, or live stream a demo of the best-selling products from your store every week. (If you plan to do a series, remind viewers at the end of your video to “follow” you for notifications of future live videos.)
  • Engage with viewers. Digital events let you can see exactly how customers are responding in real time. Learn from their questions and comments, and ask some questions of your own.

 

Once your digital event is over, assess its success, (measure participation, use of hashtags, etc.) and use what you learned to make your next digital event even more effective.

 

Related Content:

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

 

Online reviews have become a guiding force in how consumers and B2B buyers alike decide where to buy. A whopping 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and consumers spend an average of 31 percent more with companies that have excellent online reviews.

 

The number of online reviews your business has even factors into your business’s search engine results position on Google. With so much importance attached to reviews, how can you get more good ones? Here are some tips for boosting your star rating—and for dealing with negative reviews.

 

Do’s and Don’ts to Get More Good Reviews

  • Do provide great service. Yes, it’s obvious, but too often forgotten: The only sustainable way to get more positive reviews is to offer outstanding products and services.
  • Don’t bribe customers for reviews. Incentivizing reviews by offering a discount or reward in return violates many review sites’ terms of service, including Yelp’s. (Check the terms of service on each review site to be sure what their rules are.) 26497034_s.jpg
  • Do ask customers to review your business. The best way to do that is in person. When you know a customer is happy with your business, say something like, “We'd love it if you’d review us on Yelp.” Here are some other ideas to encourage reviews:
      • If you have a brick-and-mortar location, post signage indicating which review site/s you’re on.
      • Print “Review us on [SITE]” on your receipts or invoices.
      • Include requests for reviews in your email newsletters and other email marketing materials.
      • Link to your review listing at the end of your email signature.
  • Don’t assume you’re “done.” Consumers read an average of seven reviews before they feel confident trusting a business. That doesn’t mean you can get seven reviews and then stop. Keep a steady stream of new reviews coming to keep your listing fresh.
  • Do make it easy for customers to review your business. Don’t make customers search all over the internet for your review listings. Start by directing them to your review site of choice, whether that’s HomeAdvisor, Yelp or Google.  (Of course, you want reviews on more than one site, but if you have 50 reviews on Yelp and only two on Google, you’ll want to focus on Google reviews for a while.) Put clickable icons on your website and in any digital communication with customers, so all they have to do is click to go directly to your review listing and start writing.

 

Handling Negative Reviews: Do’s and Don’ts

There’s good and bad news about negative online reviews.

  • The bad news: Consumers are 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.
  • The good news: A few negative reviews can actually make customers trust your reviews more. If a business has no negative reviews, 95 percent of consumers suspect the good reviews are fake or the bad ones have been censored.

 

Consumers have become more sophisticated about reviews, and most can recognize when a reviewer is being irrational. It’s the negative reviews founded in reality that give you a chance to learn from criticism and improve your business.

 

Here's how to deal with bad reviews:

  • Don't ignore them. Reply to a negative review as soon you see it. Reputation management software for small businesses can help you monitor and manage reviews.

  • Do be understanding. Express empathy for the customer’s unhappiness.

  • Don’t discuss it in public. Ask the customer to contact you privately to discuss their concerns. It’s best to talk by phone or in person, as texts and emails are subject to misinterpretation.

  • Do share the happy solution. Once you resolve the matter, ask the customer if they’d be willing to add an update to their original review.

 

Most customers who complain simply want to be heard. Listen, respond, and who knows? You could turn that negative reviewer into a raving fan of your business.

 

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

This series explores some of the most common and difficult challenges faced by small business owners. Part 1 explored how to effectively manage cash flow, and Part 2 laid out steps to find and retain employees.

 

Marketing has always been a challenge for small business owners, but in the “olden days,” marketing methods such as print ads, direct mail and public relations stayed fairly stable. Digital marketing changes constantly, and with so many options for marketing online, many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed.

If this is you, take a deep breath, keep reading, and incorporate these online marketing “essentials” into your marketing plan.

 

Build a Website

It's hard to believe, but as recently as 2017, 29 percent of small businesses did not have a website. If you’re one of them, get moving! There are many providers that offer one-stop services including everything from registering your website domain name and hosting your site to designing, building and maintaining it.

Do you already have a website? Great! Now, make sure it’s:35338495_s.jpg

    • Mobile optimized. The percentage of online searches on mobile devices surpassed the number of searches on desktops back in in 2016, and by 2021, the number of mobile search users is expected to grow to 221 million people.  Make sure your site looks great and works great on all types of smartphones and tablets—not just on computers.
    • Fast. Your customers are impatient folks, and speed is especially important on mobile devices. According to data from DoubleClick, 53 percent of mobile website visits are abandoned because it takes longer than three seconds for the site to load.
    • Optimized for search. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your website appear higher in search results. You can optimize your website for search by researching keywords that prospects are likely to use when searching for your business. Use those keywords throughout the site in text, headlines, product descriptions and “tags” on images and pages.

 

Get the Local Edge

If your business relies on local customers, use these local digital marketing strategies to get more business.

    • Get listed in local search directories.BrightLocal reports 97 percent of consumers searched online for local businesses last year. Google My Business is the most important local search directory (since more than 59 percent of all online searches start on Google), but there are many others, such as Bing, Local.com, Citysearch and Yellow Pages. It’s free to get listed, and having a presence in online directories makes a huge difference in whether prospects find you when they search online.
    • Take advantage of online reviews. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. According to BrightLocal, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Get listed on review sites such as Yelp or Angie's List. Then monitor reviews and quickly respond to any critical ones.
    • Related content: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

Social Presence

Whether you own a B2B or B2C business, whether you sell products or services, and especially if your target customers who are millennials or younger, you need a presence on social media. More than half of small businesses say social media is somewhat or very important to attracting new customers, communicating with existing customers, and marketing to both new and existing customers.

 

Use social media posts to drive customers to take action, such as visiting your website, filling out a form or making a purchase. Want to get attention? According to HubSpot, photos and videos are over 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than text-based content.

 

Related Articles: Social Media Primer: When to Post, How Often and What About, Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

 

Don’t Forget About…

Email marketing has a median return on investment (ROI )of 122 percent—more than four times the ROI of social media, direct mail or paid search, according to DMA and Demand Metric. Use email to send special offers, newsletters, or updates about your business. Make sure your emails are optimized for mobile devices. If they aren’t, over 80 percent of recipients will delete them.

 

Get Help

Digital marketing is a huge landscape, and I’ve only touched on the basics here. The good news is, there are plenty of places to get expert help with everything from website design to email marketing and local search listings – with plenty of digital tips right here on the Bank of America Small Business Community.

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

A trend born of the Great Recession is having a huge effect on retailers—nearly a decade later.

 

“Consumers don’t want to acquire more stuff—they want to do more stuff,” says Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst at NPD Group. Consumer spending is shifting from purchasing products to spending on experiences, such as vacationing, eating out or attending concerts.

 

To compete, NPD Group advises, retailers need to create a more exciting shopping experience. Younger shoppers, in particular, seek “experiences” as part of their shopping journeys.

 

How can you improve the experience factor of your store? Here are six ideas.

1. Tune in. Music not only soothes the savage beast; it also gets customers—particularly Gen Z’ers—to spend more time in your store. In fact, according to a report by Fitch, Gen Z considers music an essential sign a store is open. Without music, your store won’t get their attention. But Gen Z consumers aren’t the only people who prefer to listen while they shop: A whopping 84 percent of respondents in The State of Brick & Mortar: 2017 survey say music makes shopping more enjoyable, while 54 percent say they’re more likely to recommend stores that play music to their friends and family.

Learn more about Gen Z: Your Consumer is Changing Again: What You Need to Know About Marketing to Gen Z

 

2. Be touchy. According to Fitch, holding and feeling products before they buy is a key part of the purchasing process for Gen Z shoppers. If you sell consumer electronics, put out floor models for customers to play with. Do you sell cosmetics or gourmet food?  Have plenty of testers and samples on hand. If you sell apparel, accessories or home decor, create lush displays that tempt shoppers to reach out and touch. 54519930_s.jpg

 

3. Get social. Creating and sharing memories is more important to today’s consumers than buying products, according to NPD Group—so make your store a place where it’s easy for shoppers to share their experiences. For example, an Instagram-worthy window display can attract crowds to take selfies. Encourage and incentivize shoppers to take those selfies and tag your business in social media posts; then pick a winner every week and give them a gift card.

 

4. Mix it up. Technology has made shoppers’ attention spans shorter than ever. Just as they expect an ever-changing stream of social media content, younger shoppers expect new stimuli from stores, according to the 10 Trends Millennial Retail report from Kelton. Stop your store from being boring by frequently changing your window displays, moving merchandise around or adding seasonal decor. You can even experiment with “pop-up” stores at other locations.

 

5. Think local. Millennials in the Kelton study would much rather support small, independent local retailers than big chains. Play up your status as a local small business by getting involved in “buy local” initiatives and events in your community. Embrace the local community in your store, too. For example, you could hold a monthly in-store concert where a local band performs while shoppers enjoy a discount. Display local artists’ or photographers’ work on your walls and swap it out every month. (You can even sell the artwork and take a percentage of the price as commission.)

Take your local focus one step further: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

 

6. Get personal. Offer a personal touch by providing friendly guidance to help shoppers make decisions. Have salespeople bring customers accessories to complete an outfit while they’re trying it on, for instance. Start a loyalty program so you can record customers’ purchasing behavior and preferences. This enables you to customize your marketing messages for their specific interests, delivering a more personal experience.

Your Full Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs: The Small Business Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs

 

These 6 ideas will help bring in more traffic and ensure that you’ve optimized your customer’s experience in your store.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to take your marketing efforts up a notch? Good for you. Here are seven changes guaranteed to give you better results in 2018.

 

1. Update your website. Has it been a few years since you revamped your website? Is time on site declining or are conversions dropping? If your website’s not doing what you want it to do, it’s time for an upgrade. Since mobile devices now account for 51.3 percent of internet use, your website needs to be designed with a “mobile-first” approach in order to make the sale. If you’re not a website expert yourself, enlist the help of a pro—this is one area where you shouldn’t skimp.

          Related article: Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

 

2. Improve your website SEO. The keywords that got traffic last year (or last month) may not work today. Regularly research to see which keywords your target customers use when they look for businesses like yours. Then incorporate those keywords into your website text, meta descriptions, tags and page titles. As voice search tools like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa become more popular, voice search is predicted to soar in the next few years. Get ahead by incorporating natural, spoken-word keyword phrases. Like website design, SEO is another task best handled by an expert. While this will cost you some money, it will save you tons of time.55171740_s.jpg

 

3. Improve your local SEO. If consumers are not finding your local business, a few small tweaks to your local SEO can help. List your business on as many local search directories as you can, including Google My Business, Yelp and any industry-specific or regional directories your customers are likely to use. Be sure your business name, address and phone number (NAP) are listed exactly the same on each directory. Add detailed information to complete your profile on search directories. Finally, update your profile regularly to include new information such as special hours or upcoming promotions—this will help boost your local SEO, too.

Related article: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

4. Maximize the power of online reviews. A whopping 97 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses this year, and 85 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. Harness the power of your online reviews by actively monitoring them, responding to them, and encouraging customers to leave reviews. Don’t offer rewards for reviews; instead, let customers know which review sites you’re on and make it easy for them to find you.

Related article: 9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

 

5. Create strong calls to action. Whether it’s a pay-per-click ad, a print ad, or the homepage of your business website, always direct your prospects with a clear call to action. Every marketing piece you create (including every page of your website) should tell customers exactly what you want them to do: “Shop now,” “Call for a consultation today,” or “Sign up.”

 

6. Fine-tune your email marketing efforts. Email is still one of the most effective marketing techniques around—not to mention having great ROI. In 2018, use your email marketing service’s analytics to really focus on what works and what doesn’t. Use A/B testing to discover the most effective offers, subject lines and cadence for your emails. And don’t forget to keep growing that email list.

Related article: The Surprising Impact of Email Marketing and how to Maximize its Effect

 

7. Spring for social media advertising. If you’ve been marketing with social media for a while, you know it’s gotten harder to get noticed organically. To maintain your social profile, you’ll need to invest in social media advertising. (With 79 percent of adult internet users on Facebook and 76 percent of those using it daily, you can’t afford not to.) An easy way to get started: use Promoted Posts on Facebook or Instagram to “boost” your most popular posts.

Related article: The Top Social Media Sites You Should Consider for Advertising

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

When it comes to marketing promotions, timing is everything. Here are some ways the timing of your promotions can boost sales.

 

1.  Seasonal promotions: Some promotions work best when timed to the seasons, such as summer or winter clothing, garden supplies in spring or back-to-school supplies at the end of summer.

 

2.  Holiday promotions: These days, it’s basically an American tradition to hold sales on every major holiday—and most minor ones. It helps to tie your promotions into the holiday themes, such as pizza shops and bakeries discounting pies on National Pi Day (celebrated on March 14 every year). Don’t overlook the “silly” holidays, such as Talk Like a Pirate Day, either.

 

3.  Cyclical promotions: Time promotions to boost sales during typically slow times of the year, such as your off-season. During extremely competitive times of year, you’ll need to increase your promotional efforts. Your customers’ sales cycles matter, too. Complex or costly purchases need a longer promotion time.51977953_s.jpg

 

4.  Event-based promotions: Consider tying promotions into events such as your business’s anniversary, election day, the Olympics or a community event.

 

5.  Last-minute promotions: Always be ready to profit from the unexpected. A sudden cold snap could make promotions on scarves and gloves profitable. Next time there’s an unexpected downpour, set up a display of rain gear at the front of your store. E-commerce businesses can hold flash sales tied to trending events, like an unexpected upset on Monday Night Football.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

6.  Purchase-based promotions: When a customer purchases a new winter coat, offer them a discount on a scarf or gloves to go with it. E-commerce businesses should have related products pop up (at a discount) on the checkout page.

 

7. Repeat customer promotions: Give customers who spent $50 at your business a gift card good for $10 — valid for the following month. This helps ensure a steady stream of customers come back to spend their gift cards.

 

8.  Limited-time promotions: If business is slow, try sending a limited-time offer or discount by text message, or posting it on social media. For example, a restaurant could offer a 2-for-1 lunch special from 11:30 to 1:30 only. Just be sure to use limited-time offers sparingly, or customers may come to rely on them.

 

How to Time It Right

How can you figure out what promotional timing is likely to be most effective? Start by reviewing your past years’ sales and marketing data. When do sales spike or ebb? What promotions work best when?  Do certain kinds of customers buy at specific times?

 

Review your digital marketing and sales analytics. What dates and times of day do your email, social media or mobile marketing messages get the best results? Sending an email promotion at 3 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. could make all the difference.

 

Let customers control the timing of the messages they receive. Instead of sending your subscribers marketing emails once a week, allow subscribers to customize their settings and get messages monthly, weekly or more often.

 

Watch your competitors’ promotions. If every other restaurant in town is offering a Valentine’s Day special, how can you time it differently? How about an order-ahead catered Valentine’s dinner for customers to pick up, or a day-after-Valentine’s Day special for singles?

 

Plan It Out

Create a marketing calendar to plan the best times for specific promotions. Build in time for anything that requires advance planning, such as placing ads or revising your website copy. That way, you won't miss any deadlines or get caught short when the time for a particular promotion is right.

 

Marketing automation software can help you time promotions perfectly by scheduling emails to send automatically when customers take certain actions. Drip, Infusionsoft and Zoho Campaigns are three marketing automation tools to look into.

 

Finally, always include restrictions and deadlines in your time-based marketing materials, so customers will never be taken by surprise.

 

Related Article: How to Start a Loyalty Program Before the Holidays

Related Article: 8 Cash Flow Tips to Season-Proof your Seasonal Business

Related Article: 13 Summer Marketing Ideas to Boost Small Business Sales

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Are you ignoring an obvious way to boost your sales? If you aren’t marketing to existing customers, the answer is yes.

Most small business owners focus their marketing efforts on attracting new customers. Of course, you need to keep a pipeline of new business flowing, but you should never ignore your current customers. Selling more to them is a quick and easy way to grow your business.

Here are my top 10 tips for doing so.

 

1.  Keep your customers happy. Never try to sell more to a customer unless you’re certain they’re completely happy with your business. Conducting customer surveys, engaging with customers on social media, and following up after the sale are all great ways to gauge your customers’ satisfaction.41612078_s.jpg

 

2.   Pinpoint the most profitable customers. Go for the low-hanging fruit by identifying your best, most profitable customers and targeting them first. They’re more likely to trust and buy from you, so it’s a quick way to ramp up sales.

 

3.   Reward loyal customers. How do you feel when a business you’ve patronized for years offers discounts and deals for first-time customers only? Not valued, right? Don't treat your loyal customers like second-class citizens—offer special perks, discounts and rewards just for them. When customers join your official customer loyalty program, you can collect more details about them, enabling you to market to them more effectively.

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4.   Stay in touch. Existing customers are already familiar with your business, so you don’t have to build brand awareness — but you do need to stay top of mind. Keep your business on your customers’ radar with email and social media marketing that lets them know about special offers or new products and services.

 

5.   Pay attention. Stay in tune with what customers are saying not just about your business, but also about their needs, on social media. This can give you ideas for how best to approach them. Suppose you notice a customer on LinkedIn is asking questions about selling overseas. Reach out to learn more about their needs and how you can help. 

 

6.  Make it easy to buy from you again. Did a customer buy school uniforms from your e-commerce site last August? Email her in July with special offers and an easy way to reorder the same styles as last year in bigger sizes. Set up auto-renewal programs that customers can opt into — it simplifies their lives and yours.

 

7.   Focus on the customer. Don’t barrage customers with irrelevant emails. Use what you know about your customers to personalize your outreach. Is there a customer who always brings her elderly mother to your restaurant for lunch? Let her know about your early-bird dinner specials or offer her a discount for home delivery for those times Mom isn’t up to going out.

 

8.   Follow up on dormant customers. Don’t let once-loyal customers fade away. Contact customers you haven’t heard from in a while with email or print offers to lure them back.

 

9.   Provide great after-sale service. Some companies put all their efforts into making the sale and then ignore their customers once the money changes hands. Follow up with your customers to make sure they’re satisfied. Ask if there’s anything else you can do for them? Once you know they’re satisfied, try cross-selling ancillary products or services, or upselling them to a more expensive version.

 

10.   Develop a system. Create a process for identifying customer needs, connecting with them, developing offers and suggesting additional products or services. When all your salespeople have a plan to follow, it boosts your chances of selling more.

 

In the end, selling more to your current customers comes down to developing lasting relationships. I’ve had longtime customers contact my business about services I didn’t even offer, simply because they trust our work. When customers know and trust your business, they’re more likely to turn to you first for anything they need.

 

RELATED ARTICLE:  How Good Is Your Customer Service? Here Are 6 Steps to Find Out

RELATED ARTICLE: Understanding Your Ideal Customer

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Start a Loyalty Program Before the Holidays

RELATED ARTICLE: The Value of Customer Loyalty − Infographic

RELATED ARTICLE: Why Listening to Social Media Can Grow Your Small Business

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Does your retail business have a loyalty program in place? If not, now is the time to launch one before the holiday shopping season reaches its peak.

A loyalty program can get first-time shoppers to come back again and again for holiday shopping — and long after the gifts are unwrapped. With more traffic in your store, the holiday season is the perfect time to grow your loyalty program membership.

 

Loyalty programs have many benefits for retailers—and are highly popular with customers. According to the 2017 Holiday Retail Outlook, 76 percent of consumers belong to a loyalty/rewards program, and 72 percent say a loyalty program makes them more likely to shop at a specific retailer. Follow these steps to start your loyalty program.

 

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1.  Know what your customers want. What attracts customers to a loyalty program? According to the Holiday Retail Outlook, these are the most desirable features:

    • Earning rewards for my purchases — 88 percent

    • Receiving special services — 32 percent

    • Ability to use rewards for experiences — 14 percent

    • Having a mobile app to store membership info — 12 percent

    • Being recognized with a higher status — 8 percent

Before choosing a loyalty program, it’s a good idea to survey your customers and see what rewards they want most.

 

2. Make it worth their while. You can handle loyalty rewards in a variety of ways. For example, you can give points redeemable for rewards; give customers cash back on purchases; or offer “tiered” rewards where perks get better the more shoppers spend. You can also mix it up by offering all of the above. Whatever system you choose, at this time of year shoppers should be able to earn meaningful rewards quickly. More than half (59 percent) of consumers use loyalty program rewards to do their holiday shopping, so the faster they can earn rewards, the more shopping they’ll do in your store. (Be sure the rewards are helping, not hurting, your profit margins).

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees Ahead of the Holiday Rush

 

3. Decide what you want. Many retail loyalty programs can also track shopper behavior and help you market to individuals based on their past purchases and other information. What are your goals for the loyalty program? What is your budget? What loyalty/rewards programs do your competitors offer? What kind of data do you want to collect about your customers and how do you want to use it?

 

4. Assess your options. Popular loyalty programs include Belly, FiveStars and Perka. Look for a loyalty program that is tailored for small retailers and meets both your and your customers’ needs. Be sure to ask about setup fees as well as monthly costs. Also take into account how easy the program is to use—both for your employees and your customers. For example, some customers may still prefer loyalty programs that offer plastic loyalty cards, not just mobile apps. Finally, with holiday season rapidly approaching, you’ll need a program you can get up and running fast.

 

5. Spread the word. Aggressive marketing is key to the success of a loyalty program. Promote your program in your holiday advertising, on your website, on social media and with signage in your store. Employees should educate customers about the benefits of the loyalty program and encourage them to sign up. Make it as simple as possible to join the program—no one wants to hold up the whole line of customers while they fill out a lengthy form. As you attract more loyalty program customers, you can even offer them rewards for getting others to sign up or spreading the word on social media.

 

Once the holiday shopping season ends, don’t let your loyalty program marketing lag. Keep signing up new members and creating new rewards. Do it right, and a loyalty program can be the holiday gift that keeps on giving.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Your e-commerce website faces stiffer competition every day. Does it have what you need to convince customers to buy? Here are 10 essentials to e-commerce success.

  1. Fast loading: Online shoppers are impatient. More than half (53 percent) of mobile site visits are abandoned if a site takes more than 3 seconds to load, according to a Doubleclick study. Make sure your site loads quickly, not just on desktops but on mobile devices too. Google penalizes sites that load slowly on mobile devices so it will also hurt your search engine results.
  2. Mobile optimized: While shoppers still primarily make purchases on desktop computers, they frequently start shopping on mobile devices.  It’s a good idea to design your site with a mobile-first approach, ensuring that customers can easily take action and get information no matter what type of device they’re using.
  3. Clear navigation: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the layout of your e-commerce site. Sticking with formats that online shoppers are familiar with will help customers accomplish what they need to do quickly. Try having users unfamiliar with your site see how easily they can navigate, shop and check out. This will help you spot confusing areas that need improvement. 46650892_s.jpg
  4. Details, details: The more information you can provide about your products, the better. That means multiple product photos with different angles, the ability to zoom in on details, informative descriptions and videos of the product in use. Be sure to include relevant information such as product dimensions, fabric content, care directions, shipping weight and whether the product needs assembly. Use the manufacturers’ descriptions as a starting point and create your own—to personalize your website copy and differentiate yours from other websites selling the same thing.
  5. Transparency: Never hide key information such as shipping costs or sales taxes. Online shoppers hate getting to the checkout process, only to find you’re charging exorbitant shipping rates. Include a shipping and/or tax calculator that customers can use early in the process to estimate additional costs, or include this information where it's easy to find.                

     

     

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  6. Free shipping:  What makes online shoppers choose one e-commerce website over another? Often, it's free shipping. In a Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 study, nine out of 10 consumers say free shipping is the number-one factor that would make them shop online more often. If possible, offer free shipping—and it doesn’t have to be for everything, just for purchases over a certain amount. You can also use free shipping codes as an enticement to buy.
  7. Good search functionality: If a customer’s search is likely to return hundreds of results, you need a way for customers to sort and filter them. Customers expect sophisticated search functionality so be sure your site provides it.
  8. Trustworthiness: Include a privacy policy explaining how you secure and use customers’ personal and financial data. Prominently display your SSL certificate and any other trust or compliance certifications on your home page and checkout pages.
  9. Simple checkout: In general, three pages is the sweet spot for a checkout process. Streamline checkout for regular customers by asking them to create an account and store their information for future orders. However, don't require customers to create an account in order to buy—this is a big turnoff.
  10. Great customer service: Even when shopping online, consumers want to feel help is close at hand. Offer multiple ways customers can contact you, including phone numbers, email and online chat, as well as an FAQ page. Finally, make sure that your post-sale customer service lives up to its promises. That’s the best way to keep e-commerce shoppers coming back again and again.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE FOUR MOST IMPORTANT DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

In a world where consumers and B2B buyers alike have hundreds of choices available at the tap of a touchscreen, customer service is becoming a key differentiator for businesses. In Microsoft’s most recent State of Global Customer Service Report, 61 percent say customer service is very important; in fact, bad service caused 60 percent to stop doing business from companies in the past.

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

 

How can you provide the kind of customer service that gets customers talking (in a good way) about your business and keeps them coming back? Start by unders

tanding the No. 1 thing your customers want from customer service: convenience.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Convenience likely means different things to different customers. To ensure you’re delivering the convenience your customers want, you need to know their demographics, key concerns and preferred communication methods. However, no matter what target market your business serves, convenient customer service basically boils down to four factors:

 

Speed. Rapid resolution of problems and complaints is crucial to providing customer satisfaction. That starts with responding to them quickly. In the Microsoft survey, for example, 57 percent of consumers say they’re not willing to wait more than five minutes on hold to speak to a customer service rep. Whether you handle customer service via email, phone, chat or some combination of the above, make sure you have adequate support to handle your customer load.

 

Consistency. Today, your customers want to do business with you wherever and whenever they please—online, in pe

rson or over the phone. They expect their experience with your business to be seamless. They don’t like having to repeat the same information they entered online on the phone, or struggle to pick up a package they ordered online in your store. Look for customer relationship management tools that help you maintain information about customers in a central, web-based location so you and your customer service reps can access it wherever you are.

 

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Flexibility. For a 22-year-old, convenience is being able to text a company’s customer service department. For an 82-year-old, texting is the opposite of convenient—he wants to call you and get a live person, not a voicemail menu. To ensure all your customers have a positive opinion of your service, provide a variety of ways for them to contact your customer service team. That might include phone, email, chat, text or even social media. When customers have the option to reach out to you in the way that’s easiest for them—you’re starting the customer service interaction off on the right foot.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: When it Comes to Marketing—Timing is Everything

 

Proactivity. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of consumers in the Microsoft survey have a positive opinion of companies offering proactive customer service notifications. After all, what’s more convenient than having a business take care of customer service issues before they even arise? Provide online training videos, how-to guides, or FAQs on your website to help customers better use your product or service. Create an online knowledge base or user board to help them resolve their own questions. Send customers automatic notifications when products need to be refilled, equipment needs to be serviced, or upgrades are available. Consumers will love it when you do the work for them.

 

Customer service is becoming a more important factor in business success. Fortunately, by providing the convenience customers crave, you can make your business stand out in a positive way.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngWhether your business is B2B or B2C, summer calls for special marketing ideas. With summer fun on customers’ minds, it's a good time to loosen up, get creative with your marketing mix and experiment a little. Here are 13 fun summer marketing ideas to try.

 

Summer events

1. Every community has its share of summer events, whether it's a downtown July 4th celebration, a 10K run or a beachfront craft fair. Find a summer event that resonates with your target market and get your business involved. You can sponsor the event, rent a booth or hand out product samples—whatever works for your business there is likely an opportunity.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Host your own summer event. Customers have more time to socialize in the summer, so invite them to an event at your business (or outdoors, to take advantage of the weather). Keep it fun and entertaining—instead of serious gatherings like workshops for B2B clients, host a happy hour, outdoor dinner at a local restaurant or beach barbecue. A beauty salon could partner with a clothing boutique and host a summer fashion show featuring the hottest hairstyles, makeup trends and outfits.

 

3. Give away tickets to a local summer event. Is your community home to an annual music festival, car show or other popular event? Take advantage of the event's popularity by purchasing some tickets and giving them away in a contest.

 

4. Print calendars that highlight summer events in your town. Target the calendars to your customer base—if your business sells toys or children's clothing, feature fun family events; if you own a personal training business, feature fitness-related events. Whenever your customers check their calendars, they’ll think of your business.

 

Get outside

5. People spend more time outdoors in the summer, so if your business is in a location with lots of foot traffic, use summer-themed posters, banners and window displays to get attention. If your business isn't near a high-traffic area, place outdoor banners advertising your business in parts of town that do get a lot of traffic.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING—TIMING IS EVERYTHING

 

6. Have a sidewalk sale. Join other business owners near your location and organize a sidewalk sale or “taste of” event, for example, where retailers promote sale items outdoors and restaurants sell samples of their signature dishes.

 

7. Take a road trip. A B2B business can go on a “road trip” to visit key customers and share their adventures on social media. A B2C business can go mobile with a cart, booth or display at sports arenas or community events.

 

34737923_s.jpgVacation time

8. Get your customers engaged on social media by holding vacation photo contests. Share your own vacation photos and those of your staff, and ask your customers to share theirs with your business hashtag or contest hashtag.

 

9. Entertain the kids. Summer vacation for kids can mean endless cries of “I’m bored!”. If appropriate for your business, hold classes or workshops for children to learn new skills, such as cooking or crafting, with supplies purchased from your store.

 

10. Target tourists. If your business is near a tourist area, print up brochures and postcards you can place at local visitors’ centers, hotels and other places travelers frequent.

 

Heat up your product mix

11. Plan summer-themed giveaways of seasonal promotional products, such as beach towels, reusable water bottles, portable mini-fans or sunglasses with your company name and logo on them.

 

12. Create summer-only products. Tempt customer with limited-time products. Develop special menu items for your restaurant or fun summer drink specials for your bar.

 

13. Put together summer-only packages. Package products or services to appeal to customers’ summer needs. For example, a beauty salon could offer a pre-beach package: a spray tan and pedicure. A gas station or automotive shop could sell compact first-aid kits for summer road trips.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngTiming is everything—at least when you’re creating marketing campaigns. In fact, as mobile devices and social media connect consumers with brands and businesses 24/7, timing becomes even more important.

 

Consider these factors when deciding on the timing of your marketing promotions.

 

How long is the decision-making process? How long do your prospects typically take to go through the sales funnel from considering buying a product/service, to researching the field, to making a purchase? If you sell software to large corporations, your sales cycle could be 6 t0 12 months, or more. However, if you own a restaurant, the decision process, from consumers deciding to go out to eat to choosing a location, could take minutes.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

What are you trying to accomplish? For marketing campaigns with ongoing goals, such as increasing brand awareness, timing may not matter as much. However, if your campaign has a time-related goal, such as attracting more customers to your restaurant for your lunch specials or selling all your boutique’s winter sweaters before spring, timing is critical.

 

Is this a seasonal promotion? For marketing tied to a specific date or time frame—such as the holiday shopping season or Father’s Day—first, find out when customers typically begin shopping for the event. If, for instance, most people don’t shop for Father’s Day until the week before, marketing efforts six weeks out are a waste of money. Combine your customer data from past years with information from industry associations and trade publications to pinpoint the best timing.

 

What media do you plan to use? Lead times vary depending on the specific medium you choose. For television or radio advertising, for example, you will need to build in time to develop, record and edit your ad. For print advertising, you’ll need to create ads to fit different publications’ specifications and meet their print deadlines (which often are months earlier than the actual publication date). Allow time for copywriting, design and other creative work. Contact the media outlet for a media kit and other advertiser information.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: MOBILE MARKETING MADE EASY

 

On the other hand, pay-per-click ads, social media posts or advertising, and text message marketing can be created on the spot, making them ideal for timely promotions. For instance, if your store sells umbrellas and there’s a sudden downpour, quickly create posts or texts promoting the umbrellas and send them to your customer list. Is your restaurant having a slow day? Send a text message promotion about Happy Hour to attract people after work.

 

27490300_s.jpgWho are your target customers? Each demographic has its own habits when it comes to engaging with advertising and marketing. Millennials are likely to view your emails, online videos or social media posts on their smartphones, and be more responsive to digital marketing. Baby boomers are more likely than younger customers to watch TV and read newspapers, making these better marketing channels for this demo. Find out from your customers the media they spend the most time with. 

 

When are your customers paying attention? Ask the media you’re considering when your target customers are most likely to be watching/reading/listening. 

 

As for social media posts and email promotions, there are numerous studies—which all seem to contradict each other—about the best times, days and frequencies to post on social media or send emails. The only way to really know what timing works best is to test and monitor your results.

 

For television, radio or print advertising, code your ads to track which ones get the best results. For social media marketing and email marketing, use your platform’s analytics tools to see which days, times and frequencies attract the most attention — and convert the most customers.

 

By choosing the right timing for each marketing method and goal, your small business can achieve better results for each dollar you spend.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering Americas entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administrations National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                   

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngUnderstanding consumer behavior—what your target customers think and feel and how they buy—helps you better market your business. Here are the top priorities today’s consumers seek every small business owner should understand.

 

1. Personalization. Once upon a time, you could group consumers broadly by age groups, such as the 18- to 54-year-old TV viewer. Those days are long gone. Even within demographic groups, such as millennials, Generation X, baby boomers, women or Hispanics, there are multiple subgroups that exhibit very different behavior. To capture today’s consumers, you need to understand each customer niche you cater to and target your marketing directly to their interests, needs and concerns.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Experiences. Consumers of all age groups are placing value on experiences over things. More than half of customers in a McKinsey survey say if they had extra income (after buying necessities) they would spend it on vacations, while over 40 percent would spend the extra money on entertainment and/or eating in restaurants. This is good news if you sell experiences. However, if you sell products, you’ll need to provide a customer experience that’s exciting enough to separate shoppers from their dollars.

 

3. Savings. The Great Recession may be over, but it forever changed the way consumers buy. Shoppers simply expect competitive pricing, discounts and deals, according to Mintel’s North America 17 Consumer Trends report. Sales, promotions and coupons will all resonate with consumers. To encourage repeat customers, set up loyalty programs that let you tailor offers to customers’ past purchasing behavior.

 

4. Convenience. Sure, consumers want to save money, but they also want to save time. Speed and convenience are now baseline expectations when shopping. Many consumers are more willing to spend extra for products or services that make their lives easier. Promote ways your business can help consumers save time, spend more time with their families or get something done more efficiently.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE ONGOING DEBATE: SHOULD YOU FOCUS ON WINNING NEW CUSTOMERS OR RETAINING LOYAL CUSTOMERS?

 

5. Authenticity. Euromonitor says today's “new consumer” has replaced conspicuous consumption with conscious consumption. Consumers want to do business with companies that share their values. For many, environmental sustainability and authenticity are key deciding factors in their purchasing behaviors.

 

57050546_s.jpg6. Transparency. Consumers expect the companies they do business with to be ethical and open about their business practices, whether that’s how they treat their employees or where the materials for their products are sourced.

 

7. Little luxuries. Overall, consumers are still counting their pennies when it comes to product purchases—but there are a few key areas where they are more likely to be “trading up.” McKinsey says consumers are willing to spend more money for premium products, particularly on alcoholic beverages and personal-care products. More than half of consumers in Nielsen’s Global Premiumization Report say buying premium goods makes them feel good; half say it makes them feel confident. Millennials, in particular, prefer premium products.

 

8. Self-directed shopping. Consumers are relying less on salespeople and advertising to guide their purchasing. Two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers in a Deloitte study say they prefer a self-directed shopping journey, up from 30 percent in 2014. Fewer than 30 percent say advertising influences their purchasing, compared to 70 percent in 2014. Don’t worry: You can still influence consumers. You just need to alter your tactics a bit and use social media, search engine optimization and online reviews to capture their attention throughout their shopping journey.

 

9. A mobile-first experience. Mobile devices and especially mobile search have become essential to the shopping experience. Even among non-millennials, 78 percent use digital devices multiple times during the average shopping trip, Deloitte says. With all age groups searching, browsing and buying on mobile devices, and Google using mobile-friendliness as part of determining a website’s page rank, a mobile-first business website is a must.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                    

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngWhat is local search engine optimization (SEO) and why is it so important to small businesses?

 

While SEO optimizes your website so it will rank higher in search results, local SEO ensures your business shows up when people search for companies like yours, specifically in your local area. Local SEO is an important marketing tool for any small business targeting a local customer base.

 

Basically, to increase customer visits to your location, you need to be doing local SEO.

 

Local SEO is becoming more important because more people now search for businesses, products and services on mobile devices. When a prospect searches via smartphone, Google takes the phone’s location into consideration when displaying search results. That gives businesses using local SEO an edge.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Local SEO can offer many benefits, including:

  • Putting your small business on equal footing with your biggest competitors.
  • Reaching the specific target audience you want—nearby prospects.
  • Grabbing prospects at the exact moment they’re looking for what you’re selling.
  • It’s free!

 

Here's how to implement local SEO for your business.

 

Step 1. Claim your business listing on local search directories.

Begin with Google My Business; then move on to other directories such as Bing Places for Business, Citysearch, MerchantCircle, Yelp and Superpages. Also add any region-specific or industry-specific directories you can think of, such as Angie’s List. You may find a directory has already created a barebones listing for your business; go ahead and claim it (it’s free).

 

Step 2. Claim and optimize your directory listings.

Start with the basic information prospects will use when deciding whether to visit your business—address, phone number, hours of operation and website URL. If you have more than one business location, you will need a separate directory listing for each; this helps improve your search engine rankings.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE DOS AND DON’TS OF CONNECTING WITH INFLUENCERS ONLINE

 

It’s critical for your business name, address and phone number (NAP) information to be completely consistent across the various directories.  In other words, if your business is on 42nd Avenue, don’t spell it Av. in one listing, Avenue in another and Ave. in a third. Inconsistent entries confuse search engines and lower your ranking.

 

26897182_s.jpgOnce you’ve got the basics covered, go back to the listings and add details to convince customers to patronize your business. This might include photos of your location or products, menus, current promotions or seasonal hours.

 

Finally, make sure to categorize your listing under the proper type/s of business. (Most search directories allow this.) Proper categorization helps to deliver more accurate search results to users.

 

Step 3. Optimize your website for local search.

For even better results, you’ll want to implement local SEO on your website, too. Start by including your business address in the footer of the home page, on the Contact Us page and anywhere else it’s appropriate. Then add location-specific keywords (such as your neighborhood, city, county or state) in your website’s meta tags, title tags, descriptions and content.

 

Step 4. Keep your information up-to-date.

To get the most from local SEO, you need to maintain current listings on local search directories. Once a month, review your listings and make sure all the information is still accurate. Update as needed—for example, add recent photos or new specials. (Your webhosting company may be able to handle this for you as an added service, so you don’t have to visit hundreds of local search directories and update them by hand.)

 

Refreshing your content gets search engines’ attention and improves your standing in search results.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                     

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngOftentimes business owners put a large focus on winning new customers or new business – which of course is necessary for business success. However, this may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re strictly focusing on getting new customers, you could be putting your energies in the wrong place.

 

Here are four reasons why retaining loyal customers is vital to success.

 

1. They cost less.

Statistics on the cost of acquiring customers vs. retaining customers vary widely, but common sense tells us it’s more expensive to land a new customer than to keep one you already have. (You can estimate your own customer acquisition costs by dividing your marketing budget over a certain time period by the number of customers acquired during that period.)

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

It’s easy to lose a customer. Nearly half of consumers will switch brands in return for a coupon, while 47 percent will switch to a competitor within one day of a poor customer service experience.

 

But it’s also easy to keep customers if you simply make the effort. While 68 percent of consumers won’t go back to a company once they switch, 80 percent say the company could have done something to retain them.

 

2. They spend more.

All customers are not created equal when it comes to their value for your business. A report from Accenture shows 43 percent of consumers spend more money with companies they are loyal to. In other words, they’re high-value customers, especially when compared to new customers who may make one small purchase and never come back. Loyalty program software or customer relationship management software can help you track how much a specific customer spends, how often they interact with your business, and how much they cost you so you can focus on your highest-value customers.

 

Try this:

  • Create a loyalty program. According to a survey by Facebook, 77 percent of customers return to the same brands again and again—but only 37 percent say they are “loyal” to those brands. To turn repeat customers into loyal ones, use loyalty marketing software to create promotions that resonate with specific customers based on their prior behaviors. B2B businesses can create similar incentives, such as offering bulk discounts.
  • Upsell and cross-sell. Encourage salespeople to upsell and cross-sell whenever possible (without being pushy). From the retail salesperson who suggests a handbag to go with the dress a shopper is trying on, to the B2B salesperson suggesting a customer purchase an extended service plan, this approach can really boost your bottom line.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: TURN AN ANGRY CUSTOMER INTO A RAVING FAN – [RIEVA’S] TOP 10 TIPS

 

3. They refer new customers.

Existing customers not only spend more with your business, but they are also a valuable source of new customers. Some 55 percent of U.S. consumers who are loyal to a business or brand will recommend it to family and friends, Accenture reports.

45650799_s.jpg

 

Try this:

  • Ask satisfied customers for referrals. Build this into your sales process so you automatically ask for referrals once you know a customer is happy.  You can even automate the process—for example, by sending emails requesting referrals to customers who post positive reviews.
  • Offer a reward, such as a discount on the next purchase, to incentivize referrals.

 

4. They boost your business’s profile online.

Customers who have an existing relationship with your business can easily be persuaded to engage with your business online by posting reviews. This raises awareness of your business and attracts new customers.

 

Try this:

  • Ask customers for reviews; then link to the reviews on social media and your website.
  • Encourage customers to share their experiences with your business on social media, such as posting a photo of the new hairstyle they just got at your salon. Service businesses or B2B companies can ask loyal customers to provide testimonials for use in marketing materials.

 

You can’t keep your current customers forever, of course. As time passes, their needs inevitably change, and you’ll need to replace these customers with new ones. But by devoting yourself to satisfying existing customers, it’s easier to generate a steady stream of new ones, as well.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                                                                                      

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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